Careers

7 ways to rock a career comeback after years away

For anyone who's put the brakes on a career for an extended period of time, getting back into the workforce can seem overwhelming and nearly impossible. But experts say there's no better time than now to revisit your career goals and make a comeback.

In fact, all those hours spent organizing school activities and volunteering can be positives on a resume—great news for parents a day after Mother's Day and as Father's Day nears.

Here are seven tips people can use to reinvent themselves in the workforce after time out of it.

Mother working from home
Kris Ubach and Quim Roser | Getty Images

1. Mentally prepare

Entering or re-entering the workforce takes courage. The first thing you should do is work on your self-confidence, experts said. Updating your resume comes later.

"Confidence—it's not a noun. It's a verb. You have to work at it," said Lauren Handel, co-founder and chairman of executive and life coaching company Handel Group.

Exercising more and making healthier meals are great first steps, Handel said. The idea is that confidence will start changing the way the you think about yourself and your career.

"Put your child in a stroller and go for a walk. Have your child play in the playground while you run around the track that's around it," she said. "Cook a nice piece of salmon or another healthy meal for yourself."

Jot down a list of your strengths and accomplishments to remind yourself of what you're capable of, other experts recommended.

2. Make (and keep) promises to yourself

Make a list of steps you want to take to advance your career search. These steps could be updating your resume, talking with your friends and contacts about your plans or creating a website.

"Keep promises to yourself," Handel said. She recommends having an "integrity management checklist" or a list of promises to yourself.

If you break your promises, you take away something you love "like your glass of wine at night, or your Netflix," she said.

3. Get online

If you have a few free minutes during the day, start building your online presence.

"Maybe you have a blog, or are on Twitter or on Instagram," said Stacey Delo, founder and CEO of Maybrooks, a career resource for mothers. "It's great for an employer to see that you're thinking about or talking about the things you're interested in."

Some free or low-cost platforms to create a blog or website are About.me, Wordpress, Medium and Squarespace.

4. Consider a returnship

If you're having trouble landing a job right away or want to ease back into the workforce, consider a "returnship" or an internship opportunity geared towards experienced professionals.

"There are different companies that have started formal returnship programs, these are programs where you come in like an intern but you're an experienced intern. It's a great way to get some experience and leverage that into a job," Delo said.

young couple
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5. Think small … small business

When looking for jobs, it's easy to look at the top companies listings and get discouraged if you don't hear back.

"Large companies need to be creative and reach a very experienced talent pool. It's tough when you come against these resume systems that may filter your resume out," Delo said.

Instead, think small.

"Small business are willing to take chances. And when you're in there, you have the ability to grow faster," Delo said.

Your first job back in the working world may not be your dream job, but that doesn't mean you have to settle.

"Maybe taking an office manager position at a start-up isn't exactly what you set out to do, but if you do it at a company that excites you, then you can work to turn that position into what you would rather be doing" she said.

6. Look for part-time or freelance work

Make the most of school hours by looking for a part-time job or freelance work.

"There are lots of things that can be done during school hours— you can have a freelance job, a permanent part time job. If your children are in school, it doesn't require the extra cost of hiring a babysitter," said Kathryn Sollmann, founder and CEO of 9 Lives for Women, a blog and career coaching consultancy for women navigating work and life.

These jobs are not necessarily in retail, an industry known for being flexible, experts said.

"More and more companies are looking for independent contractors to save on overhead on employee benefits and real estate space. So there's a much more ripe environment for independent freelance work or longer-term project work," Sollmann said.

If you're over-committed with volunteer work at your child's school or a local organization, consider scaling back a bit to pursue work. If you want to keep volunteering, Sollmann recommends choosing volunteer tasks you could put on your resume. For example, a mom may want to opt to help manage a book sale as opposed to baking cupcakes.

7. Think about starting your own business

You don't have to be a Silicon Valley techie to create your own business.

"A lot of women often think having your own business means raising capital, hiring lots of people, getting an office space. It sounds very scary, like a huge commitment," Sollmann said.

But you could use your skills to start a business that builds up your resume, without spending a lot of money.